HOLLYWOOD, CA – The entertainment industry mourns the loss of Carl Weathers, the ex-professional American football player turned actor, who passed away this Thursday. His manager confirmed the news on Friday, although the cause of death remains undisclosed. Weathers was 76.
Despite his diverse acting portfolio, including roles in the recent “Star Wars” spin-off series “The Mandalorian” and the 1987 sci-fi horror “Predator,” Weathers is fondly remembered for his role as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” series. His character began as a rival and later became a trusted ally to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in the popular films of the 70s and 80s.
Weathers’ portrayal of Creed not only catapulted his career but also played a significant role in launching Stallone’s career. Stallone, then a newcomer in Hollywood, wrote and starred in the 1976 film that dominated the 1977 Oscars, clinching Best Picture and Best Actor for Stallone.
An emotional Stallone expressed his grief in a video tribute, stating, “When he walked into that room, and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness. I never could have accomplished what we did with Rocky without him.”
Weathers’ portrayal of Creed, modeled after Muhammad Ali, was a beacon of intelligence and charisma. It offered audiences a powerful and positive Black character during a time when mainstream cinema was starting to challenge stereotypes.
Apart from showcasing his physical prowess in films like “Action Jackson,” Weathers also showcased his comedic skills, starring opposite Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore” and parodying himself in the TV series “Arrested Development.”
Before his acting career, Weathers had a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League. He retired from sports to pursue acting, landing minor roles until he was cast as Creed, a role initially offered to boxer Ken Norton.
Weathers’ role in “Predator” alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and his part in “The Mandalorian” kept him in the public eye. He is survived by his two children, Jason and Matthew. His manager’s statement described him as a “beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”